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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest May 8-14, 2017: VW TDI Deals; MB Diesels Verboten In US; Mazda Diesel Arriving Soon; Ford Rice Rockets; RAM Recall; 1 Million 911's


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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, May 14, 2017; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Car Guy along with fellow senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, give you TACH's "take" on this past week's automotive news in easy to digest mega-tweet sized nuggets.

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Nutson's Nuggets: May 14, 2017

* Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess recently asserted that his company will sell 1 million battery driven vehicles per year by 2025 outperforming Tesla in the developing EV market. With diesels virtually gone from the U.S. portfolio and in trouble elsewhere, perhaps more R&D resources are available for EVs. If the upcoming Tesla Model 3 is as successful as they expect, that may be challenging prediction. VW is now in development of its third full-electric vehicle.

* Volkswagen is offering sweet deals to entice drivers to buy its remaining diesel cars in stock at U.S. dealers after receiving clearance from federal regulators to sell its 2-liter TDI diesels from the 2015 model year. The German automaker is giving drivers a 24-month lease option with an $8,500 bonus, or 0 percent, 72-month financing with a $5,000 bonus, on its Generation 3 2.0L TDI vehicles. Eligible models include TDI version of the 2015 Jetta, Golf, Beetle, Passat and Audi A3, each modified to meet U.S. emission standards after the automaker was caught cheating regulations.

* Daimler AG announced this week its intent not to sell 2017 diesel models in the U.S. but has not decided to abandon that market in the future. Citing increased difficulties involved certifying that powertrain Mercedes-Benz spokesman Rob Moran said they have “put the certification process for diesel passenger cars on hold.” Moran also noted that for the 2016 model year diesel-powered automobiles accounted for less than 1% of sales in the U.S. Last year, Mercedes-Benz offered four diesel models in the U.S.and they had planned the same for 2017.

* Not deterred, Masahiro Moro, CEO, Mazda North American Operations confirmed in a Chicago media roundtable discussion that Mazda is moving forward to offer an optional diesel engine in its CX-5 crossover. Mazda hopes to achieve about 10 percent of CX-5 sales with the 2.2-L Skyactiv diesel which will come in October.

* An amazing story out of Germany surfaced this week as the one-millionth Porsche 911 rolled of the assembly line in the original Zuffenhausen factory after 54 years of production. This iconic sports car continues with the same rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout that has distinguished it since the beginning. That configuration characterized its progenitors back in to the 1950s as well. The Irish Green 911 Carrera S sports a commemorative plaque and will not be sold - at least not right away. They plan to parade it around the world including the Nurburgring and here in the U.S.

* Journalists are beginning to get behind the wheel of the new street version of the Ford GT that won LeMans in racing trim and AutoWeek just published the first comprehensive drive story we’ve seen. Writer Mark Vaughn compared it to other super cars he had lately driven including Ferrari and McLaren. He pronounced the GT better. It seems 750 of the first 1,000 to be built by Ford are already taken at $450,000 each. The 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 is good for 216 mph top speed.

* Buyers of Ford’s sporty Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Focus RS and Fusion Sport models are three to 10 years younger than buyers of non-performance variants of these vehicles; younger customers give automakers a better chance of winning over repeat buyers. These younger, performance-hungry customers are also more affluent; the annual income of Fiesta ST and Focus ST customers is approximately 70 percent higher than that of regular Focus and Fiesta variants. Ford’s sporty car sales jumped 45 percent for the first quarter of 2017, bucking the trend of the overall U.S. industry that is seeing consumers shift from cars to SUVs.

* In addition to its racing, aftermarket performance vehicles, LP gas conversions and other projects, Roush just opened a new advanced engineering center in Troy, MI to provide design and engineering services to clients involved with hybrids, full electric propulsion, battery systems, autonomous vehicles, software development and data analytics. The 44,000 square foot facility will accommodate around 150 new jobs for which they’ve just begun to hire. Great job opportunity for any of our readers who are looking for a new engineering opportunity.

* Lest we think we’re unique in establishing comprehensive test facilities with near-real-world environments to test self-driving cars you might be interested to know that South Korea is building an entire town for that purpose - though at less than a half-square mile that might be hyperbole. Called “K-City” it will be the largest test facility of its kind in the world, they claim. The cost of building the facility is reported to be around $10 million and will be used by native automakers Hyundai and Kia as well as electronics companies like Samsung.

* Fiat Chrysler is recalling approximately 1 million Ram pickups in North America due to a software glitch that could prevent side air bags and seatbelts from deploying during a rollover. The recall includes some 2013-16 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups and 2014-2016 Ram 3500 pickups.